Food Creations

Do you ever want to see your kiddos’ artist side come out? Just show them the work of Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers and set them to work!
Tropical Island
Map of Israel
Loch Ness Monster 
Winter Wonderland
Tips for a successful food creation display:
  • Encourage students to use biodegradable, vegetarian or vegan food products (something that grows)
  • Ask students to create displays on biodegradable plates or platters so the whole thing can be thrown away (you can’t imagine having to scrap it off in the compost and then wash those glass platters, yuck!)
  • If you are making it a competition, have the school vote on their favorite
  • Set up a long table outside of your library, cover it with a tablecloth, and encourage classes (and parents) to come check out the work
  • Do this in the colder months so it doesn’t get smelly so fast
  • Do this as part of an all-school celebration or library-themed week (Homecoming, School Library Month, ect)
  • Have creations be depictions of favorite books

Blackout Poetry

Whoa! It’s been an insane month of loosing my mother-in-law, driving cross-country, signing a new contract for the coming school year and welcoming my husband home after being on the road for five weeks. Sigh. Needless to say, I have been neglecting this here blog. So, to get back into it, I thought I would post an overview of the coolest type of poetry I have ever seen!
Austin Kleon, the author of Newspaper Blackout (as well as a number of other awesome art-inspiring titles) is the guru of blackout poetry. His Newspaper Blackout site is pure awesomeness. He has the ability to make something surprisingly hard to do, look incredibly easy.

The I’ve-Been-Featured-Happy-Dance

That’s right, I’m doing a little happy dance. Well, it’s a rather big happy dance, actually. I’ve been featured! You might have noticed that I recently added to my blog, my Digital Age Teaching badge through Tamritz and was then featured in their newsletter! How exciting!

Tamritz Badge Learning:
Tamritz Badge Learning:

Tamritz is a digital badge learning network designed by Sarah Blattner, specifically geared towards Jewish day schools. I earned my Digital Age Teaching badge from Tamritz, which included the following badge courses: Learner 2.0, PLNs (Professional & Personal Learning Networks), Digital Citizenship, Create 2.0 and Learning Design. Course participants explore a variety of topics from social bookmarking to netiquette to copyright to game-based learning and beyond (way, way beyond).
 Tamritz Badge Learning:
Perpetual student, that’s me. Thank goodness there are always ample opportunities to learn cool stuff from cool people.


My Librarian Heart is Singing

I recently accompanied my eighth grade seminar students and their (amazingly brilliant) language arts teacher, Ms. E, to our (gigantic, beautiful, breathtaking) downtown library. It was such a rich experience, for both the adults and the students. I truly believe it should be a once a week occurrence. Okay, yeah right, but a librarian can dream! At the beginning of the year, each student chose a topic and has been formulating questions and developing outlines based on that topic. Ms. E and I team-taught a quick demonstration on how to search for books in the downtown library and students then conducted their searches and made lists of books they would like to look for the following day.
After boarding the city bus (even this part was a great experience, the kids were awesome and the bus driver was friendly), we took a quick ride downtown and arrived at the library. Ms. E separated the kids into small groups based on like-call numbers. Once inside, groups helped one another locate their books. Seeing as how the non-fiction section is two (huge) floors, I was super impressed how the students managed their time, helped one another and came back to a central location when they’d found what they needed. I was also giddy to see the kids asking the public librarians questions and thanking them for their help (yippie!!!).
It gets even better… All of the kids found books for their topic, two students signed up for library cards (every student has an active library card with the city or county library, but some of them have gotten to the age where they can get a card independent from their parents and they were excited to take advantage of that privilege), they were desperate to go to the Young Adult section and check out the fiction books, and they continued to ask to check out additional books they discovered (not for their projects, just because they wanted them!). Big, big sigh. This was such an amazing experience. They learned so much and had fun doing it. It makes my heart sing. And THAT is why I think it should be a once a week outing. I’m just saying…

Who Knew… “Who Was” Works Magic

My 5th through 8th grade students are required to read across a range of genres throughout the year. One genre that always prompts a lot of heel-digging is biographies. Our biography section is… Well, let’s just call it a little “dusty.” It’s not a section that I’m proud of. In an effort to not only help the kids fulfill their requirement, but also get them interested in reading non-fiction, I ordered the complete Who Was series. These short, illustrated biographies are great for my middle grade readers. I found there are a ton of great biographies for children and a ton of great biographies for high schoolers, but the ones in between, fell through the cracks. This series is the perfect supplement.

Best of all, when I delivered them to the 5th grade classroom, they went WILD. Now that’s librarian magic.

Photo credit: Ideas by Jivey

Poetry for Our Toughest Critics

Working with Americorp, I met more than a handful of students that long ago lost faith in the good of the world and here I was, just another “adult” trying to engage them in topics they could care less about. Fresh out of college (with the face and energy of a 12 year-old), I had no idea how to earn the respect of these “kids” who had experienced more in their 16 years than I could ever imagine. With histories of juvenile detention, abandoned parents and looming bills, I knew it would take more than a well thought-out lesson plan to connect with these young people. After listening to their stories, I discovered the power of poetry.

Now, I’m not a poet myself. I hated the very idea of poetry. To me, there was no meaning. I never understood it. I never connected with it. Well, perhaps, I was just never presented with the “right” kind of poetry…

Together, with a room full of rough and tough teenagers, stemming from a conversation about our favorite music, we explored the idea of music as poetry. And it changed everything. It opened their eyes to poetry, it opened my mind to poetry and it opened my heart to teaching through understanding, connection and compassion. What sparked it all? Daniel Beaty’s “Knock Knock” piece with Def Jam Poetry. Not song lyrics per say, but powerless, nonetheless.